A great deal of my writing is pure catharsis and indispensable, and by not practicing it more often, I’m losing one of the things I truly love.
I have mentioned before my unquenchable longing to write again. My goal was/is not only to write with a discipline that makes me proficient at the art, but most importantly to find a balance. The balance that I seek is between both of my dreams: raising Ishaan and being a writer. And this balance for me right now is nothing but an inscrutable lore. I do not know where to begin. How do you find the balance when you’re a full time SAHM? How do you find the balance between your child’s breakfast, play time, story time, errands, cooking, picking up, lunch time, diaper changes, colds, fevers, doctor visits, playdates, and the daily grind? I haven’t really been able to. I have mastered putting and keeping Ishaan on a schedule, but I have miserably failed at incorporating my writing on a day-to-day basis. Then how do I manage to post twice a week, you might ask? I sacrifice my sleep mostly, which is to me of essence as I need a lot of sleep to be able to fully function the next day for Ishaan and do the whole thing all over again. Therefore, that wasn’t/isn’t working out for me. And then it hit me. If I am to write everyday with a regimen and focus, (and when I say focus, I mean immersing myself in my work,) it will have to be when Ishaan naps. It’s the only real-time I have of absolute silence and no diversions. I cannot write with commotion or music. And it’s hard to write when he’s awake as there will obviously be interruptions. And disruptions while I write is not only frustrating but harmful to my flow. I tried it once while he quietly played with his blocks. But who was I kidding? How long at the end of the day can a 15 month old stay still? The interference made me more frustrated than if I hadn’t written at all. Why? Flow is critical. And the disruption of that flow is a writer’s momentary death. So this is what I plan on doing and I have implemented that right now. Write when he naps. That’s my balance. At least for right now. Ringer off. No social networks. It’s just me and my writing. Sit in the room and hit that keyboard.
I have received a plethora of honest and warm advice from family and friends on what I should do about this balance that appeared unattainable. I am still not certain if it really is, but I’m going to give it a fair shot. Some said I should get help, like a nanny, and some said to put Ishaan in a daycare for a couple of hours a day. Ewww to both suggestions. Though I know they all come from a good place. And thank you for looking out!
Like I have told Tapas, I want to be the one to raise Ishaan. Not someone else. I’m not trying to prove good parenting when I say I want to be the one who gets up with him in the mornings, brushes his teeth, makes his breakfast, plays with him, teaches him words, the alphabet, numbers, and colors. I want to be able to sit with Ishaan and read to him and then give him his lunch and watch him calmly fall into slumber. I want to be there when he wakes up again, full of energy and ready for his mid-afternoon snack. I want to be the one who changes his diapers and keeps count of the wet ones and the #2s. I want to make him his dinner, be there to see him savor it as he says “yammy, yammy” with every bite. I then want to be there for his evening routine. Bath time. Milk. Story time, and lights off. Because the way I see it, I’ll only get to do this once. He’ll only be a baby/toddler once and then in seventeen years from now, he’ll be off to college and even though that seems light years away, I’m sure the years will fly as has his first 15 months of life. I have only blinked and Ishaan now is walking and talking. So I understand that I have a choice. I understand that I can make things easier for myself by creating the time to write. I can do the full-time writing the way I once did it pre-Ishaan, where I wrote ten hours a day until Tapas arrived home. I can have the help come daily, as I write. And perhaps my writing will finally take off, but a part of me, and it would actually be the biggest part of me, would not feel right about it. A constant sadness and void will nag me. Thus, thwarting my ambitions to write. Knowing that my writing could result in the possibility of missing a day with Ishaan just doesn’t make sense for me. It doesn’t fit my ideal. And it’s not a flare of guilt that keeps me from writing either. Honestly, guilt dissolves in the understanding that Motherhood is complex and it comes with no script. So I go with my heart instead and my heart whispers Ishaan.
Do I make it more difficult for myself? Of course. I am fully aware that me not being able to write is completely my decision. A very personal one too. As parenting is all personal. But it’s a decision I feel good about. I wouldn’t and couldn’t have it any other way. And again, this is just me. Many moms have a nanny come in from 9am-4pm, as they lock themselves up in a room, write, and then bid the nanny a farewell, take the kids to the park, and return home in time to make dinner. Does that sound tempting? Absolutely. Would I like that? Without a doubt. Why wouldn’t I like to write in peace, by myself, for that many hours in a day? But the question is, which is what someone asked me, “Would you be able to live with yourself everyday if it were that way?” The answer is no. Not being there for Ishaan with the sheer intensity that I want to be, is not where I want my heart to tread. That would only lead to life’s biggest foe: regrets. Because at the end of the day, I’d rather raise Ishaan. I’d rather give him my all now in these very critical and informative years than it be anyone else. Does this mean that I’m choosing him over my writing? Yes. It does. That is precisely what it means. That is exactly the conclusion to this entire admission. Which brings me to this article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” Slaughter professes some really brave sentiments on choosing between her career and children. Hence, the title. And I cannot deny that a part of me agrees with her. But maybe there’s another way to look at it. Which then brought me to this article. Lacey writes on a side of feminism that really makes you feel empowered. In her eyes, women can have it all. And by the way, she does. After all, having it all is subjective and personal. Hence, I ask myself, do I have it all?
My response is a resounding yes. But perhaps not all at once.
I have a home. I live a comfortable life. A very comfortable life. My son is healthy. I have a loving and kind son. Tapas works hard to give us this comfortable life. He supports me as a mom. Supports without question every decision I make as a mom and trusts my decisions. He also unconditionally supports my writing. I do get to write. Not as much as I would like, but again, I’d rather be Ishaan’s mother a hundred times over, then a full-time writer. Because one day when Ishaan is at school, I will be able to be that full time writer and in the meantime, I’ll practice the artistry during his naps. Lucky for me Ishaan naps 3 hours every day and that for the moment is enough. I feel fulfilled at the end of the day knowing that not only did I give Ishaan 120%, but I wrote. Even if it was a paragraph, I wrote. However, though Lacy painted a more realistic picture of the middle class moms, I can’t help but to find myself understanding Slaughter. At the end of the day, there are some women who have to choose between family and career. Perhaps Lacy didn’t, more power to her, but some women do.
Someone once told me that Motherhood will make you lose your identity. “You will lose yourself.” I can understand why she would say this to me, because it happened to her. However, as time passes and my son gets older, I realize I haven’t lost myself. I have inevitably changed, of course. I am now a Mom with the biggest responsibility a human being can have, raising a child, but if I see my journey as losing myself I’m inviting negative thoughts and feelings into something that is beautiful, happy, and rewarding. Therefore, I have switched paradigms. I haven’t lost myself. I am redefining myself. And in many ways, I am a better version of myself.
I have read advice from many writers on finding the time to write and one that stands out most is this: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” Some truths can really open your eyes. Once I read this, I implemented a plan of action. And here I am, writing when Ishaan is napping next to me. I have a dozen other things I need to do. Like prepare dinner, get his snack ready, think about my detox, but writing is part of my life too. So, I’m here, trying to begin this balance of breathing, being a mom, raising Ishaan, writing, being a wife, cooking, and exhaling.
What’s challenging about my writing is not only the obvious, the time, or lack there of, but picking up the thread from the previous day. Mostly because at times it is impossible, or nearly impossible to transform from Mommy mode to Me mode, or Writer mode. I’m up with Ishaan from 8am-1pm before my writing time commences. That’s a lot of hours of complete Mommy mode. My mind is absorbed on Ishaan. Therefore, once his nap time rolls around it’s a challenge to slow your mind down and reach a level of serenity and concentration. In other words, leave one world and enter another. (Maybe I should have a glass of wine to help me relax? Read what this mommy has to say about that here.)
See, let me be as straightforward as I can be. I’ve never really stuck to anything in my life. Hmm. That sounds vague. Allow me to elaborate so my point isn’t missed or misunderstood. Throughout my life I have always been impulsive. I’ll say I want to do something, I’ll do it, but not with my full heart’s content, or with all my heart for that matter. Then I quickly just became uninterested and utterly bored. This applied to academics, extracurricular activities and some relationships for that matter. I even volunteered at Miami Children’s Hospital for 2 years. On Saturday mornings! But after those two years, it became monotonous. Therefore, now that I have Ishaan, it’s the first time in my life that I actually give something/someone my all. And though no one is perfect and I never will be, I want to at least make the attempt to do this one thing in my life, right. I don’t aim to be the perfect mom. Who would I be kidding? I don’t aim to be even be the best mom. I just want to be a mom. My definition of a mom. The mom that I perceive myself to be for Ishaan. I just want to be Ishaan’s mom and that means being present as much as I can. That means showering him with love and helping him grow. That means giving up other things that I once use to love to do. And again, this is my choice. I understand I don’t have to give it up. I understand that I can do it all. Of course I can. I’m a woman of strength and determination. But I can’t be cut in two. See, being a mom is more real and more true to my nature than anything I ever was before.
And don’t give me the psychobabble bullshit of it’s an unhealthy balance because I need time to myself. I do get the time to myself. I have those three hours while he naps seven days a week. My mother (God bless her!) comes twice a week for several hours and she takes over all of Ishaan’s responsibilities. During that time I get to either write again if I want, or go out and pamper myself. For many moms that isn’t enough time. I understand that. But for me, that’s more than enough. When I walk in after being away for let’s say no more than 4 hours, Ishaan comes running to the door yelling, “Mama! Mama!” I kneel to meet him at his eye level and he embraces me as I do him. He rests his head on my shoulders and those tiny fingers play with my hair. This is Love. This is what fulfills me. Moments like these I believe life is beautiful after all. This is what I live for. It’s not whether I had the time to do my nails. Or whether I saw the latest blockbuster. But it’s my relationship with Ishaan, it’s cultivating that relationship that is the most important thing to me in my life.
How about you? Have you found a balance? I’d love to hear from other mommies and daddies on how they juggle it all.